Kallo-Knippla – Our Swedish Paradise

When we started putting together our trip to Sweden, I knew we’d want to spend a few days in Stockholm, but wasn’t sure where else we would want to go.  I proceeded to spend more time than I care to admit scrolling through house listings on Airbnb* in an effort to figure out where else to go while in Sweden.

I kept coming back to this one charming house right on the water.  But I knew nothing about the location.  It sounded a bit intimidating – a tiny island off the coast of Gothenburg requiring 2 ferries to reach it from the mainland.  It also wasn’t very close to Stockholm which meant more logistics planning then I was necessarily wanting to tackle. But, I couldn’t resist.  The listing was almost dreamlike – right on the water with a dock, a water view from every room and while quiet, not isolated and lonely.  The house seemed to strike just the right balance.

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I went for it.  After viewing the listing no less than several dozen times, we made a family decision to book it.

It was perfect.  It was the first time in our travels that we took it slow and really relaxed without running this way and that, trying to see sights.  While there weren’t really any sights to see on Kallo-Knippla, that doesn’t mean we were bored.  Far from it.

The northern part of the island was not built up and just had walking paths winding through the rocky terrain.  We spent most of our time outside, walking and climbing the rocks along the coastline.  Despite the weather being cold and windy, we (okay, I…) packed a picnic lunch to enjoy on the rocks.

What town center there was consisted of a small market, a pizza place, one restaurant open during the high summer season, and a fish stand open only a few days of the week. The only drawback to the lack of services/amenities meant more time in the kitchen.  The good news is that Sweden has embraced the convenience of rotisserie chicken.

We did travel a few islands over to Hono for dinner out on two occasions – our first dinner out was at a little pub and the second was at a delightfully charming restaurant, Tullhuset.

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We spent one day in Gothenburg and on our way back to our perfect little house, we all vowed not to leave the island again for the rest of our trip.

Our time in Kallo Knippla was an absolute delight.  The weather was as good is it could be with sunny days warming up our little house.  The island was charming and a refresing break from city travel.  Because of our time on this charming island, my approach to travel planning has changed.  No longer do I reflexively look at city destinations, but I have been searching out quieter spots that allow us to absorb the culture of the place in a more relaxed way.  We’ll see how this pays off on our next trip.

*On the off chance you don’t already have an Airbnb account, clicking my referral link will land you a $40 credit.  But doesn’t everyone have an account by now? 😉

Stockholm in 3 Days. With 2 Kids.

We had 3 full days in Stockholm and since we are traveling with kids that means you can’t just plow through the sights and run yourself ragged.  Well, we usually run ourselves ragged – but it doesn’t take much for this crew.  Typically, the best we can do is 2 big things a day- something in the morning and something in the afternoon with a lunch break in between and a dinner break at the end and back to home base to wind down.

I don’t stick a strict schedule but have a general sense of the big things we all want to do. Then I look at the weather and try to correlate the weather with the outings.  Based on the forecast, it looked like we had one sunny and nice day and the others were cloudy/rainy.  I saved the 2 outdoor sights for those days and plotted the indoor sights for the other 2 days.

Day 1 – Saturday – a gloomy day but we managed to dodge much of the rain

City Hall – This was not to be.  We attempted to go Saturday and Monday but it was closed both days.  Disappointing, but given the closures were due to the terrorist attack, it was quite understandable. –Mom

Nobel Museum – We spent quite a bit of time here and enjoyed a scavenger hunt type activity for the kids as well as some hands-on experiments as part of the aptly named “Experiments” exhibit. –Mom

The Nobel Museum was super fun. There are clips about Nobel Peace Prize winners and the give you a quiz and you have to hunt for the answers and the prize is a chocolate coin. – Nate

Since this was our first full day in Sweden, jet lag and lousy in-flight sleeping meant this was a short day.  We headed back to our apartment and just grabbed some pizza take out at a local spot recommended by our Airbnb hosts.

Day 2 – Sunday – The sunniest day which meant we did as much outside as possible

Skansen – It was Nate’s dream come true! Our Uber to the Skansen was a Tesla. Another enjoyable thing at the Skansen was a story-in English- about witches and butter luck. There was a cute pottery shop as well as a glassworks place and a bakery. — Catherine

Millesgarden – This was the one spot on my must-see list.  I’m so glad we had a sunny day for enjoying it.  There weren’t many tourists.  It was a bit tricky to get to on public transportation so we took an Uber.  One element making this very kid-friendly was the outdoor space and lack of crowds meant the kids had a bit more freedom to run around. Plus the sculptures were so visually dramatic the kids couldn’t help but be intrigued. –Mom

Day 3 – Monday –  Another rainy day but with indoor museums planned, we made the most of it.

Vasa Museum- a giant ship made from the salvaged half-viking ship the Vasa and made into a museum. My favorite part of this museum was Sail A Ship, where we compassed, put the sails up, and un anchored the ship in order to sail it. Now that was fun! –Catherine

Nordic Museum– At the Nordic Museum, there was a Time detectives game where we had to figure out who stole the Golden Marzipan Statue. As Nate and I plowed through the evidence, witnesses, and suspects we reached the end for a prize of… a pin? Yup. –Catherine

The Children’s Playhouse is a room within the Nordic Museum set up like a little agricultural town in the “olden days” – complete with a horse drawn carriage to drive, a river to cross, a general store, and a kitchen.  The kids could have played here for hours more than they did.  Well worth the extra 20 SEK for admission.  There was also a replica of a 1940’s apartment – another hit with the kids.  I wish I had better pictures to share but the kids were on the move and it was fairly dark. –Mom

Tour of Subway Art – In the process of researching our trip, I learned that Stockholm has some pretty amazing subway stations.  The kids were getting a little tired, at this point in our day which meant I had to make this tour a quickie.  I looked up the stations with the most distinct art and off we went.  Our tour put the DC’s Metro to shame but that’s not too difficult.  The linked article does a great job giving some historical background on the subway art and is worth a read before exploring.  There are free walking tours of the subway art but our timing was a little off, unfortunately. –Mom

Ericsson Globe – Hello everybody! Nate here! Now as you know I love buildings, they are my whole life even!

Now a little fact – The Ericsson Globe is the tallest spherical structure in the world!!  So what happens is you watch a short clip and and you take a pod up and down the side of the building. personally I would recommend it and I would also give it a 5-star rating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Stockholm Kid-Friendly?

The answer is a resounding yes!  While my kids are older and we have left behind the stroller years, it was impossible not to notice the many ways Stockholm makes life a little easier for parents as they navigate the city.

The first thing we noticed were the ramps built into stairs.  We first came across them coming out of a subway station but then found them all over the city.  What a clever way to make the city stroller accessible. Naturally, I had to tell my kids they were NOT for running up and down.

When it comes to eating out, not only were there kids menus at all of the restaurants we visited, but there was often the option to order a half-portion of a regular entree.  The twins are less enthusiastic about kids menus as time marches on; the option of ordering off the “adult” menu was a fantastic.

We also came across some fantastic playgrounds.  There was one great playground right near our apartment in Enskede.  It had one of the coolest play features I’ve ever seen.  To spare you my description, I’ll let these cute time-lapse videos speak for themselves.  It may have been the hot spot for the local fathers who took their kids to the playground. I think I saw more fathers than kids playing on them…

More than the specific kid-friendly features, it was also the vibe of Sweden that was very family-friendly.  I didn’t feel the pressure to keep my kids silent while riding on the train. I didn’t get the stink eye from other passengers when my kids dared to talk as we so often encounter when traveling in certain areas.  The culture of family-friendliness made traveling through Sweden a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

 

 

 

Upon Arrival

As the plane pulled to the gate, we gathered our things and got ready to disembark.  I turned on my phone to text my mother that we had arrived safely in Stockholm.  As I waited to connect to service, the alerts started popping up.  There had been an attack in the city center of Stockholm.  So as not to alarm the kids before we had more facts, I handed my phone to J without saying anything.  We knew this would have an impact on getting to our apartment but there wasn’t much information available as the situation was still unfolding.

We proceeded to immigration, excited as always for a fresh stamp in our passports.  While waiting in line, J and I tried to get the latest news and see what had happened but there wasn’t much in the news as the attack had happened just 2 hours earlier. The immigration officer asked a number of pointed questions about our travels – it’s hard to say if she asked more questions given the events or if she’s always that inquisitive.  But we had never been questioned quite so extensively.  The officer handed us our passports, and informed us there had been an event in the city and we would want to inquire at the information desk as to transportation options into the city.

As we expected, all trains were shut down.  So much for the tickets I’d purchased in advance for the express train.  We were advised to sit tight for a bit, get some food and reassess the situation.  At this point, we had to tell the kids what was going on.  We took them to the side, and explained what had happened.  Our best option was to get some dinner at the airport and maybe transportation would be more available at that time.

Thankfully, the Arlanda Airport has a shopping/dining area attached to the airport with numerous options.  We settled in for dinner – meatballs and mashed potatoes of course – and tried to get more information about the attack.

Once dinner was over, it was pretty clear the subway and trains weren’t going to reopen any time soon. It appeared at that time that the suspect had not yet been apprehended.  Our only choice was to take a taxi for what would undoubtedly be a long ride given the increased traffic we were likely to face as all public transportation was still closed.

At this point, the taxi lines were much shorter than what we had seen earlier which was a relief.  Perhaps our decision to wait it out was a good one.  We all piled into the car and we were off.  It wasn’t long before we hit traffic, at which point, the kids and I promptly nodded off.  When I woke up, the taxi driver was explaining that he had two options to get us to our apartment – either go around the city or through the city.  He chose going through the city as the traffic was heavy on the highway.  Unfortunately, the streets were closed and we had to turn around and take the highway.  The remainder of our trip was uneventful but long.  We were relieved when we pulled up to the apartment – 90+ minutes after leaving the airport.

J and I hadn’t yet read much on the attack as our primary concern was dealing with the transportation issues and keeping our very tired kids from losing it.  We tucked the kids into bed, soothing what concerns they had about sleeping in a new space – what was that noise, are there enough pillows, it’s too dark, it’s too bright, where’s my stuffed animal – you know the drill.

As we explored the city yesterday, we noticed heavy police presence but otherwise, people were out and about as you would expect in any city.  We did take the kids aside and emphasize that if either one of us tells them to do something or not do something, they must listen to us.  They are not to first ask why or push it until we do that ridiculous 1-2-3 counting we still have to do.  They seemed to get it.

We tend not to be very alarmist in these situations.  J is a law enforcement officer and we know there are risks in our everyday life.  We are no more concerned or worried than when we planned this trip several months ago.

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The Swedish flag flying at half staff over the City Hall.